You may know him as Lil’ Sci, but he has become a force to be reckoned with under his government name, John Robinson. Working with DOOM, John put out one of my favorite recent releases with Who Is This Man? He has also worked with some of the industries best including Jneiro Jarel, Flying Lotus, J. Rawls, Carlos Nino, putting out classic projects like I Am Not For Sale, The Leak series and more. Today we welcome the wonderful John Robinson to Open Mic Presents… as we discuss recent business ventures, new music projects, collaborations and other exciting news!
Here is a preview, hit the skip for the full feature…
Reyn: Hey John, lets get it started with the release Who Is This Man? The title could mean a number of things, but to me it seemed as if you used it as a reintroduction for yourself into the hip-hop game. You have been emceeing for quite some time under the alias Lil’ Sci, but did you feel you needed that new push as an artist with this record?
JR: Indeed it was time to Renew the history. The history must be renewed every 25,000 years! I am in a space and time where I feel although I have been doing music and traveling the planet for over a decade now. Lately I have been inspired probably more so than ever. I learned early on that you must continue to be innovative in this forum in order to stay relevant. John Robinson is here for the 2009 and Beyond! What’s up world!
Reyn: Briefly touch on the decision to drop the alias Lil’ Sci and go with the good old government name.
JR: DOOM had a lot to do with my using the name John Robinson. Long story short when I would call DOOM’s house to build on Biz etc. my name would come up on the caller ID, so one day he tells me he has this Crazy Idea and he found some dialogue about a man name John Robinson and thinks we should do a Project with me using my given name. At that moment I was definitely fully ready to do the project just not sure using my real name was the best way. He assured me that he saw that name becoming household in years to come and even guided me in the transition of it all. The rest is OUR STORY!
Reyn: Now back to the album. The production was handled primarily by producer extraordinaire, MF DOOM. Regardless of the fantastic production, your emceeing still seemed to take the cake. Explain the chemistry between you two in the studio. Who brings what to the table and how do you help each other make the best music possible?
JR: At one point I can remember building with DOOM in the studio and him telling me that I was one of his favorite Emcees. It was honorable to hear that from him due to my high regarded respect for what he does with words so easily. The chemistry was grand! DOOM is a scientist in the studio! Truly! Every lil bit of slight touches had top notch methods to them. DOOM would tell me stuff like you should try not to use the same word twice on an album. He said there is always another word to describe that same thing. He also helped me separate the cadence of Lil Sci vs. John Robinson. So many Gems I have learned from those sessions.
Reyn: I would also like to know how you ended up working with DOOM. How did you two meet up and decide to collaborate?
JR: I have known DOOM for over a decade. We met via Bobbito Garcia (if you don’t know Bob Look it UP YALL!) Both DOOM and My group Scienz of Life were working with Bobbito’s label Fondle’em Records at the time. This was around 96 – 97 era. We have collab a few times before with Scienz of Life and also KING Geedorah.
Reyn: Now with all of DOOM’s antics and his new solo joints about to be released (hopefully), can we expect John Robinson and MF DOOM to hop back into the studio together for another project any time soon?
JR: Honestly I have my plate pretty FULL right now with the current releases out now and a slew of more releases and projects coming in 2009. I am sure it will happen again just not exactly sure when. Stay tuned.
Reyn: Give me a few primary objectives you had with the lyrical content and break them down for us. Was there anything you set out to achieve with the rhymes? Do you feel like you were successful with delivering those messages?
JR: The main objective for John Robinson is to always have a message involved whether it be happy or sad, positive or negative, Good or bad. My main goal on this record was to create an Audio-biographical piece that loosely related to my life directly. John Robinson is a character that is Authored by Lil Sci. On Who is this man? I focused on structured song writing I wanted to write GOOD Songs in a sense where DOOM’s technique is usually to never have Hooks on songs or certain number of bars etc. I thought it would different to go against his norm and bring some structured writing to his production and create a brilliant marriage. I think it worked! Lol!
Reyn: I also wanted to touch on the I Am Not For Sale record. The messages in that joint obviously touch on how important integrity is to you in your music and how the industry is pretty screwed up right now. Instead of beating a dead horse and asking what you feel is wrong; how do you, as a musician, help make a difference in the current musical atmosphere with your craft?
JR: I focus on the up and coming! I encourage young people to stay focused on their path of life and not only within music but life on a whole. I truly feel that on the music side of things the Elders and Vet’s have lost touch with the upcoming and there needs to be more links in order for the true history and foundation of great music to be properly upheld, respected and represent correctly! I also continue to release positive powerful music full of substance and integrity minus the parental advisory stickers so that every one from Toddlers to Grandma can enjoy the vibes.
Reyn: You worked with some more great producers on that album including Jneiro Jarel, J. Rawls, Flying Lotus and more. That is a crazy lineup to put together for one project. What is it about these particular artists that cater so well to your sound as an emcee?
JR: Truly these are all personal friends of mine and we are fans of each others music so it definitely wasn’t rocket science to make the links happen. I felt Sonically all of the producers on the record complimented each other and allowed for there to be a high level of diversity without straying away from the essence of it all.
Reyn: Now you have worked with several renown producers and artists, but I find it very dope that you keep your bond so strong with your brother ID 4 Windz. Talk about your relationship with your brother and your musical journey together.
JR: Oh yes 4Windz is forever! We have been working together on music since Kids. He is 2 years older than me so he showed me a lot growing up and still does to this day! Although we are brothers we hang out like homeboys! I feel it has been what has kept us linked so easily is our friendship amongst being family. Expect to hear a slew of music from I.D. 4 Windz in the 2009 and beyond. We are working hard to show the people what he can really do on the production end of things. In my opinion he has not gotten his just due props. I also know that it is not too late. Scienz!!
Reyn: You are known for your musical artistry, but you also do some fine work in the office. Talk about your musical business endeavors with Shaman and Beat Vizion. Seeing both sides of the spectrum, how does that help you become a better musician and businessman alike?
JR: Yes big ups to the Shaman Family! Chris Craft, LG and Gerald. Definitely great working with such brilliant cats! With Shaman we have made a lot of things happen that we smile about til this day yet we all still know that we are definitely not in our prime and we have some new building blocks to lay this year and beyond to continue building our pyramids of success. Beatvizion is my personal baby! It is an all Digital label that I do with the help of my partner Wes King. We decided to launch Beatvizion truly to assure we are riding the wave of the future. The digital music revolution is taking the music industry by storm and although we haven’t always been fully supportive of the digital format over CD’s and especially vinyl! We still must make sure we are in tune with all the latest ways to get the music to the people. We deal with 2 things! The Music and The People!
Reyn: You originally started working mostly on the east coast but over the years have migrated over to the west. What is the appeal of the west coast versus the east coast and vice-versa? Talk about some influences you take from both coasts and how you apply them to your music.
JR: The East Coast will always hold a extra special place in my heart! It is home for me. I have been blessed to be able to be born in NY, moved to NJ senior year High School, much later moved to ATL, then moved over to Los Angeles and Now I am back in NJ. This is definitely great for insight and inspiration of creative juices. It also helped me build multiple fan bases in all of these different markets.
I have so many people that I have been inspired by in all of these places that it would be unfair to name only a few. Just know that I give thanks for all the wonderful times I have had during my journey…
Reyn: What can we expect from John Robinson in 2009 and beyond?
JR: Definitely expect to hear some more new music! I am working hard to stay extra sooper prolific yall!!
New albums in plans:
-Scienz of Life – Leviathan
-J Rawls and John Robinson are Jay ARE: The 1960’s Jazz Revolution Again.
-John Robinson – The Leak edition Vol. 3
-The launching of the Hip Hop Motivation Corporation Check out our first project: Think and Ballout on itunes now!
Reyn: Many thanks John, any closing words for our readers?
JR: Yes I will quote one of my mentors Les Brown. He said: Many people don’t fail in life because the aim high and miss, most people fail in life because the aim low and hit! And some don’t aim at all… Which one are you? If any? Always Bless, John Robinson.